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Report Indicates Execution of Two Ahwazi Arab Men May Be Imminent

Ali Chobayshat and Yasin (Khaled) Musavi could be executed as early as Thursday.

On November 16, 2013, Press TV, Iran’s state-run English language news network, aired a program that included confessions of Chobayshat and Musavi.

(May 21, 2014) – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has learned that two Ahwazi Arab men could be executed as early as this Thursday.

The two men, Ali Chobayshat and Yasin (Khaled) Musavi, were previously charged with muharibih, or waging war on God, for their alleged involvement in the October 23, 2012 bombing on the Chogha Zanbil natural gas pipeline near the town of Shush, Khuzestan province. Seyed Mohammad Bagher Musavi, a judge in Branch 4 of the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Chobayshat and Musavi to death on September 9, 2013. Salman Chayan, their co-defendant, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Chobayshat and Musavi were reportedly tortured in prison. According to Chobayshat’s relatives, their confessions were extracted under torture. Press TV, Iran’s state-run English language news network, broadcasted their televised confessions on November 16, 2013. On March 18, 2014, the families of Chobayshat and Musavi were informed that Ministry of Information and National Security (MOIS) officials have transferred them to an unknown location. 

Chobayshat and Musavi are members of a cultural organization called al-Shabab ("Youth") in Khalaf Mosallam village near Shush, Khuzestan Province. A relative of Chobayshat stated that the al-Shabab organization was involved in exclusively peaceful activities including holding religious ceremonies with the appropriate permits as well as college examination preparation instruction. These events were routinely raided and dispersed by regular police, whose main criticism is reported to have been the attendees' choice to wear traditional Arab garb.

According to a source close to the case, Chobayshat and Musavi were not provided adequate legal representation. This source claims that the prisoners' court-appointed attorney and a former judge of Ahvaz Revolutionary Court, known as “Torabi”, allegedly demanded 3 billion Rials (about 91,000 USD at the time of this release) from each defendant's family. This money was allegedly requested to bribe the judges involved in the case to reach a more favorable result for the defendants.

The news of the possible execution of Chobayshat and Musavi in the coming days follows the execution of Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Sha’baninejad in January 2014. On January 29, reports emerged that Rashedi and Sha’baninejad—two members of al-Hiwar, an Ahwazi Arab cultural organization, who were sentenced to death in July 2012—were executed. Iranian authorities executed them without notifying their attorneys or their families.

Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Sha’baninejad were among the prisoners whose images were featured in Unlock Iran, a campaign launched by IHRDC this year to raise awareness regarding the plight of political prisoners in Iran.